Box Office Report: Mark Wahlberg's 'Contraband' Tops Friday With Strong $8.7 Mil

10:06 AM PST 01/14/2012 by Pamela McClintock
Universal Pictures
"Contraband"

The Universal action-thriller and Disney's 3D re-release of "Beauty and the Beast" beat expectations; Queen Latifah-Dolly Parton musical comedy "Joyful Noise" off to solid start.

In more good news for the film business -- which is still recovering from a rocky 2011 at the domestic box office -- moviegoers turned out in force on Friday as the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend got underway.

Universal's Contraband, staring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale, and Disney's 3D re-release of Beauty and the Beast both overperformed on their first day out, while Warner Bros. and Alcon's muscial comedy Joyful Noise got off to a solid start.

Box office observers expect revenues for the four-day holiday weekend to be up as much as 10 percent over last year.

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Contraband, an English-language remake of the 2009 Icelandic film, topped Friday's box office chart with $8.7 million. Projections show the pic, which received an A- CinemaScore, grossing nearly $29 million over the four-day weekend. Universal and Working Title produced the film for a modest $25 million (Relativity Media is a financing partner on the film).

Disney's 3D re-release of classic toon Beauty and the Beast took the No. 2 position on Friday, grossing $5.6 million for a projected four-day opening of $26 million. That number coud be revised upwards depending upon traffic on Saturday.

Beauty and the Beast will come much closer than anticipated to the $30 million debut of The Lion King when re-released in 3D last year. Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested that both Beauty and Contraband would only open in the mid to high teens.

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Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment's Joyful Noise, the third new film of the weekend, narrowly beat holdover MIssion: Impossible - Ghost Protocol on Friday to take the No. 3 spot, grossing $3.32 million. Joyful Noise, headlining Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton as two competing church choir directors, also received an A- CinemaScore.

The musical comedy, which is projected to gross $13.5 million for the four days, was fully financed and produced by Alcon Entertainment, the Warners Bros.-based company that made box office hit The Blind Side. Like many of many Alcon's films, Joyful Noise was tailor-made for faith-based audiences in mind. It cost under $30 million to produce.

Ghost Protocol could overtake Joyful Noise for the four-day holiday weekend. On Friday, Ghost Protocol grossed $3.27 million, pushing its domestic cume to nearly $178 million.

Paramount's micro-budgeted exorcism pic The Devil Inside fell nearly 85 percent from the previous Friday to an estimated $2.7 million. Generally speaking, horror films see steeper declines than other genres.

Devil Inside is projected to gross $9 million to $10 million for the four-day weekend, putting its cume north of $45 million. The pic, which Paramount acquired for $1 million, opened last weekend to record-breaking numbers.

At the awards box office, the Weinstein Co.'s awards contender The Iron Lady made a major push on Friday, upping its theater count from five theaters to more than 800. Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep, came in No. 9 on Friday, grossing $1.6 million for a domestic cume of $2.2 million.

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